Matthew Lowenstein G'17
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Pre-dissertation Grants for Research in China 2017
University of Chicago
The People’s Bank: A Social History of Banking and Money in Mao’s China
This project explores the nature of Chinese banking and money under high socialism (1949-1978). It charts the evolution of finance in Beijing, Sichuan, and Chongqing from the state monopolization of banking in 1949, through the heady bubble economy of the first five year plan, attempts to reintroduce independent finance after the Great Leap, and the fragmentation of the monetary system in the 1970s. By mining archives of local actors such as People's Bank regional branches, this dissertation constructs a history of finance from the bottom up. It examines how different rural and urban social groups interfaced with and constituted the financial system. In doing so, it sheds light on the fundamental question of what socialist money is, and how it structured social relations after 1949.